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EU trio push for quick U.N. nuke rebuke of Iran
Updated: 2005-08-08 09:44

France, Britain and Germany will lobby countries on the U.N. nuclear watchdog's governing board this week to get them to throw their weight behind a warning to Iran not to restart sensitive nuclear fuel work, diplomats said.

The three countries called a special session of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) board of governors for Tuesday after Iran said last week it would resume work at a uranium conversion plant near the central city of Isfahan, ending a suspension of nuclear work agreed with the Europeans.

The "EU3", who are heading nuclear negotiations with Iran for the European Union, have said that if Iran broke the suspension they would end talks and seek to have Tehran referred to the U.N. Security Council, which can impose sanctions.

Iran has said it will break U.N. seals on equipment at Isfahan once IAEA surveillance equipment is in place, which the IAEA says should happen by mid-week. The EU wanted the IAEA board to make a statement on Iran before then, diplomats said.

"It's a case of asking them not to do it because of the consequences that might flow from them doing it," one diplomat close to the EU-Iran talks said on condition of anonymity.

Iran says it only wants nuclear technology to generate electricity. Western countries, however, suspect it is secretly trying to develop atomic weapons.

The EU hopes to convince Iran to abandon nuclear technology that could be used to make bombs in exchange for political and economic incentives.

The EU trio circulated an initial draft of an IAEA board resolution this weekend urging Iran not to resume conversion, the step before enrichment, a process that can purify uranium to the levels needed to fuel reactors or bombs.

The Europeans will hold talks with other board members on Monday in the hope that all will agree on a text in time for Tuesday's meeting, diplomats said.

The Islamic republic has rejected a package of incentives that the EU presented on Friday, potentially setting it on a collision course with the West. Tehran is due to give its official response on Monday.


Diplomats in Vienna said the EU's proposed text was not strongly worded, increasing the chances of all 35 countries on the IAEA's board of governors agreeing on its wording quickly.

"It's pretty mild," said one Western diplomat, who declined to be named.

Another Western diplomat said: "They're urging Iran to comply with previous board resolutions by maintaining its suspension of enrichment-related activities and expressing concern at the decision to resume (conversion) activities."

It was unclear how other countries on the board would react.

In particular, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which holds a third of the IAEA board's seats and has objected to previous Western proposals on Iran, has not expressed its position, diplomats said.

"We will need to handle NAM very carefully," a diplomat close to the talks said.

For two years, Washington has tried to have Iran referred to the Security Council for violating its obligations under the global pact against the spread of nuclear weapons.

Its efforts were, however, blocked by other countries including the European trio, which wanted to persuade Iran to voluntarily give up all potentially weapons-related technology.

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